Friday, September 21, 2018

The story of a dog named Quilla and a recipe for Bottled Tadka, inspired by OPOS Style.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a dog. 
I would, in my childhood, come home with random puppies I'd adopted from the street. Every time I did this, my mother would shut the door in my face. I was never allowed to step in. 
My heart would break, every single time. 
To make up for that, I befriended every dog in the colony I lived in. But it was never the same. I needed a dog of my own. 

My son is also very fond of dogs, just like I am. He wants needs a dog, but M, is against the idea. 
My heart just shattered into a million fragments, I had wild hopes that my dream would come true after my marriage... my son is sad too. 
To compensate, we go to the Humane society and walk dogs. 
It isn't the same. 

So, in September, for the Labor Day, I planned a small getaway. We went to Kanab. My plan was to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary I've been planning this vacation since last winter.
We set up our volunteering session (it's a 3 hour shift) and in return, we could take a dog  with us, to our hotel room, for a sleepover! It was the closest thing to owning a dog, just for one night. 
We did a tour of the sanctuary and then volunteered. The afternoon was very hot and so dog walking was out of question, we did the cleaning up part and then helped with doggie dinner time.
If you want any details, leave a comment or email me and I will share all I know.
For now, I will let the pictures do the talking

It starts here, the Sanctuary is located in Kanab, with a stunning backdrop of Angel Canyon. It's a sprawling facility which accommodates dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds.  You need your car to go from one point to another.
#bestfriendsanimalsanctuarykanabutah
It all starts here.
 We wanted to work and volunteer with dogs and were assigned  to Fairways. Volunteer duties vary, in the mornings it involves feeding and walking the dogs. We were there in the afternoon, so our duties involved cleaning, filling the pails with fresh cool drinking water and then feeding.


#NKUT
My boys on cleaning duty. If you must know, I was on poop cleaning duty :) poop- diaper... once a mom, always a mom! 
I was looking forward to our doggie sleepover more than anything! At last, all our jobs were done and we got to meet 'our' dog, Quilla. She is a Pit bull Terrier mix.
M, who is usually *very*.... very wary of dogs  also warmed up to her. She is the sweetest thing. All she wanted was cuddles and to be loved and we made sure she got plenty of those.
Our reward for volunteering
 It was so much fun, taking her on walks, well, she took us for walks, I must admit. The best part was how happy, S was around her and talking to her. He'd go, "no, Quilla, nooo. Follow me, come on ! come with me.... " specially when he saw others watching and smiling. Because she was just too strong for him, I held on to her leash, Li'll S just walked by her, chest puffed out because he had a dog. 
I strutted a bit too (~ blush~). I couldn't help it.I was just so happy! 

Giving me company
 She is such a quiet dog, we did not hear a peep out of her all evening. And so intelligent! She sensed that M was a bit nervous... so she would go up to him, crawling on her tummy and look up at him, her tail wagging and eyes silently demanding love. She got what she wanted, every single time.

Quilla
 Where Li'll S and I were concerned, she didn't need to ask! We were more than ready to hug her and pet her! We needed it more than she did, I guess.
It's ALWAYS hug time! 
This was the best part of our holiday. The next day we went to Bryce Canyon National Park, it was beautiful. We also had fun in the snow fall at Bryce Point. All in all a very happy holiday.

As always on a road trip, I prefer to carry my Electric Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot with me. We eat out during the day, but for dinner, after a long day of hiking or walking and climbing, we love home made food. Simple and uncomplicated, comfort food. 
For my family, this translates to making Khichadi (rice + moong daal+ tadka / tempering) and pickles.  Yogurt, if available.
I usually make khichadi packets, add water and salt to taste and cook. But this time, I did not plan well, so washing and drying the rice and lentils in time was difficult. The risk of carrying damp rice and lentils is, they become sticky and moldy. Its goes in the trash bin, To avoid that, I carried rice and lentils separately and decided to wash and cook as needed. and I made Bottled Tadka. 

Now, if you are wondering, if she is carrying an IP, whats the issue? Make a tadka in the inner pot, right? Wrong!  The thing is, I did not want to carry all the ingredients for the tadka : oil in a small bottle and ziplocs with spices. I made my life easy with this hack! 

For those of you who haven't heard of OPOS (One Shot One Pot) technique,  it is exactly as the name suggests, one pot cooking, in one shot developed by Chef Rama Krishna. 

The idea is to layer food in a sequence and cook it on high heat, in a 2 liter pressure cooker. Because food is cooked on high heat, it's pressure baking. The convenience is the best part.. well, that and the fact that the foods retain a vibrant color and taste great too! 

*If you are interested in learning this technique, there are simple rules to follow ( this only ensures your success). The first thing to do is, standardize your 2 liter cooker. Watch the entire video and follow the timing, Once this is done, go on to other recipes. 

To make Bottled Tadka, this is the basic and simple version. You can make variations to it. I make this version as I find it useful for almost all dishes I opos.

In your 2 liter pressure cooker ( wiped clean of any moisture), add 1 Cup of Oil. I used Canola.

#Bottletadkaopos
One Cup oil

To this, add 1/4 cup Mustard seeds / Rai/ Sarson/ Mohori

1/4 cup Mustard seed
Add halved red chilies. I added about 15-18.
Halved red chilies
 Add some curry leaves. I had dried curry leaves my aunt gave me. If you are using fresh curry leaves, wash and pat the leaves dry and then add them.
Add curry leaves
If you have asafetida in the 'stone' form, add it now. If you use powdered asafetida, like I do, do not add it. just wait.

Now close the lid and start the stove on High Heat. This is the time you need to be a bit alert. Start a stopwatch on your cell ( it gets easy after a few tries, but initially, the stop watch helps). You need to keep listening to the mustard seeds popping sound. 
In my case, the popping started at about 2 minutes and 25 seconds. 
As soon as the popping slows down, whip the cooker off the heat ( in my case, since I have coils, they stay hot for a long time and hence I just whip the cooker off the heat and set it aside on a cool coil) and let the pressure settle normally.  I had the cooker off the coil by 3 minutes,
The pressure will settle quickly. Open the cooker lid, the oil is still very hot. Add asafetida and stir it in. Done! 
Add asafetida to the hot oil

 Let the tadka cool. Transfer it to a clear glass bottle and once it is room temperature, it is ready to be refrigerated and used as required.

You can make variation to the tadka as per your requirement. If you need a tadka with lentils in it, like Urad and Channa Daal, to make it a South Indian tadka, add the daals after the mustard seeds.

Ready to be bottled
This will stay fresh for a long time in the fridge. Maybe a month. But I use it every day, and for daals / amti/ sambar/ rasam so I have never really checked how long it stays fresh. 
The thing is, when I was in India for 2 months over summer, I made a big batch of this for M and he barely used a quarter of it. I used the rest after coming back home and it was still good! 
#oposBottledTadka
Bottled and ready

The above mentioned quantity made one bottle full, in my case, I used a Priya Pickle bottle I had. I got this bottle full and a couple of tablespoons over that. 
OPOS, Bottled Tadka, OPOS bottle tadka

This tadka can be used to temper not just daals, but simple vegetable stir-fry ( french beans, potato masal for poori or dosa, ivy gourd) and can also be added  when making khichadi (like I did on this road trip) or to dahi-butti (yougrt rice). All you need is a bit of pickle! mm-mm-mmm! 


That's it from me today. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, doing just what you please! 
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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Kawan Samosa. Baked, Not Fried.

Every now and then, I have this intense samosa craving and it just won't go away! 
I think the Indian grocery store in my neighborhood has samosas on weekends, but I rarely go there on weekends, the store is small and overcrowded. It just isn't worth the trouble. 

That still doesn't solve my problem. I'm still without samosas. 
The craving still won't go away. 
The joy of munching on a samosa is unlike any other. 
It reminds me of movie halls and interval times when I would rush to the concession stand to buy greasy, absolutely lip smacking, piping hot samosas.

I don't feel like buying a pack of frozen samosas, they take up too much space in the freezer. 

So how do I get my samosa fix?  I guess I must make them myself. But, (here I go again), the deep frying? I don't want to do that because samosas need to be fried at low temps and for a long time to get the outer cover that, flaky texture. 

So then, I saw this brilliant hack on a Facebook forum. They used Plain Kawan Parathas to make the cover and baked them. Brilliant or what!?

So of course, I buy a packet of Kawan Parathas and prepare to feast on samosas.


For the filling, I use this recipe. It is simple and tasty. 

We now come to the most important part, making the samosa.

**Please note, I am making no claims that this is a healthier version or any such nonsense. This is a calorie rich recipe. If you are on a diet, this isn't for you. 

If you are still reading this, i must urge you to head tot he nearest Indian grocery store and buy a packet of Kawan Plain Paratha or if you have them in your freezer, pull them out and set them on the counter to thaw while you read this.



               
Preheat the oven to 350F
Prep the tray you want to use. I used my old tray and lined it with parchment paper. 
The thawed parathas can be very sticky, so be careful as you work. 
I used the parathas when they were just the tiniest bit hard ( the heat from your hand as you fold them will make them soft).
Place a paratha (with the plastic backing) on a smooth surface ( counter top / rolling board) . 
using a pizza cutter or a knife ( your choice. I found the pizza wheel easy to use) 
You will get two semi circles. 
Follow the pictures to make a 'cone' 
Fold the straight edges towards the middle of the round part. 



Press the ends to seal ( leaving the broad part open). Scoop the stuffing into the cone.


Now seal the samosa by bringing the sides together and form a triangle.




Similarly, make all the samosas and place them on the baking tray. 

Bake for about 15 mins till the samosas are golden brown. Oven temperatures vary and so, keep an eye on the tray at the 15th. minute. If the color isn't perfect, bake for another 2-3 minutes, 
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for a couple of minutes ( the stuffing will be VERY hot )  or serve immediately with chutneys of your choice or ketchup.



Notes:
- These samosas are best served hot
- You need not make a cone and stuff the potato mixture in it. It can get fiddly. Just fold the semi-circle into a triangle and seal the edges. 
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